|MARY BARBARA LIGDA
|Father: PAUL VICTOROVITCH LIGDA
|Mother: EDITH F. LIGDA
|Siblings: THEODORE PAUL LIGDA, MYRON GEORGE HERBERT LIGDA, VICTOR WORTHINGTON LIGDA
Barbara was the only daughter born to Paul and Edith Ligda. Her early years were spent primarily in her mother’s care because her father worked away from home much of the time. She did not recall missing him. Barbara spent the summer of 1915 with her Aunt Cora in Stockton near where her father was then working. She saw him frequently. Her aunt reported that Barbara was: “a good little girl – quite contented,” and wrote for her:
“Sunday I went with Father after dinner to the shop . . . Father has a kind of crane in the shop where he is working. He put me in it and told me which one to pull down and which way they go and which way I would go, so I went up and right and then down and left. We went to the picture show Saturday night and after the show, we had ice cream . . .”
Some of her childhood is captured from her mother’s letters describing normal activity, e.g.,
“Barbara [is] 7 . . . She is getting lanky and is getting her second teeth, so that she doesn’t look very beautiful! She is as athletic as ever, can do all the tricks of the boys her age on the trapeze and horizontal bars. She is Paul’s favorite – he is always buying her impractical fancy clothes instead of the substantial things a tomboy like that needs.”
In 1920, when she was 11, Barbara, along with her brothers, Vic and Ted, visited Myron and Mabel Bailey, family friends who lived on a farm near Alcampo, California. The visit was probably to provide her mother with some time to adjust to Herb, the youngest brother, born that year. The Baileys were impressed with Barbara: “She loves praise – she has great intelligence – she has exhibited no nervousness and no desire to cry.”
Barbara was an average student, good in some subjects like math; not so good in others like spelling. On March 13, 1921, her mother wrote: “Barbara [is not a] shining light in scholarship . . . [She] is not good at either reasoning or memory work.” She did seem to distinguish herself in high school sports, winning recognition for her participation in archery, baseball, basketball, and swimming. She also, at her parents’ insistence, attended Trinity Episcopal Church and was active, “as I was forced,” in some church activities.
Barbara’s high school work was good enough to earn entrance to the University of California, Berkeley in 1926. There she met Frances Todd who was to become a lifetime friend. 1 She continued living at home, 2 but says she was never very close to the family after entering college. She was on her freshman hockey team. Her mother observed: “She will make a good P. E. teacher if we can get her through college. She is interested in Psychology and Zoology . . .”
Barbara worked to help pay her college expenses. One Christmas, with the help of a friend, she brought a truck load of Christmas trees from Oregon and, over her mother’s objections, peddled them from door to door. In the summer of 1927, her mother reported:
“[Barbara] has been trying to find work to earn some money this vacation, but without success so far, except that she worked as a saleswoman one day at a special sale at Capwell’s. She liked it and did very well and was told to come around again next Christmas as a special saleswoman. There is so little a girl like her can do. I am not willing to have her do housework and she is not capable of office work, as she can’t spell, nor write legibly.”
Barbara got the job at Capwell’s over two weeks of the Christmas holidays and on special sales earning $3/day. Her mother reported: “She is a very sweet and unexacting child, not a bit ‘grand,’” but added that she got most of her clothes as presents from wealthy friends. “She is clever at fixing them up tho not at all a good sewer.” During the summer of 1928, she worked at the Berkeley Tuolumne Camp as a dining room hostess. In her letters, she wrote of swimming, rowing, and canoeing: “I paddle my own canoe . . . I can swim acrost the river about 300 yards against the current.” Her strength in swimming helped her save the life of a 4 year old boy who otherwise would have drowned in the river.
In her junior year, Barbara worked as an after-school playground director for the Berkeley Recreation Department.
Barbara did C work in her early college years. She pledged and was initiated into Sigma Kappa, a social sorority, in her sophomore year. She later developed stronger academic interests and began earning A’s during her senior and graduate years.
In 1930, Barbara borrowed Henrietta, the family car, to take Frances and another friend on a weekend trip to Monterey. While teaching Frances how to drive, Frances totaled the car. Because she wasn’t supposed to let anyone else drive, Barbara took the blame. Her mother reported it this way:
“We . . . have lost Henrietta. Barbara drove her to Monterey last weekend and on the way back the machine was wrecked beyond salvaging. An elderly woman turned in front of B without signaling and as there was another machine beside B, she had no choice but to hit the woman’s car in the rear, or overturn in the ditch. She had two girl friends with her and none of them were hurt, fortunately.”
Barbara graduated with the Class of 1930, but did not leave school. She immediately entered post graduate school to earn an unrestricted teaching credential. She split a job teaching P. E. at a Catholic Elementary School in Berkeley with Frances. She did not report the job to her mother who disapproved of the Catholic Religion. She continued working special events at Capwell’s. Her mother noted on 12/19/30: “Barbara is through with her finals and is selling hosiery in Capwell’s. She gets $3 a day; is pretty tired when she finishes the days work.”
After earning her credential in 1931, Barbara began a distinguished teaching career. Her first job was at Clovis High School, Clovis, California. She was living in Clovis in 1932 when her father died. 3 Thereafter Barbara, who was making $1,250/year, sent her mother $35 monthly.
In 1935, Barbara left Clovis to accept an offer from Balboa High School in San Francisco. She moved to an apartment on Filbert Street she shared with Frances Todd. Caroline, her sister-in-law, envied Barbara’s independence and considered her a “swinger.”
Barbara and Harold married on October 11, 1940. Their first home was at 727 Bay Street near Hyde in San Francisco. However, they began building a home in Campbell where they moved in 1941. Because the Board of Education required that all teachers live in the city, Barbara maintained a city address for her school mail. 6
In December of 1942, Harold enlisted in the Army. He was initially assigned to Hamilton Field as a recreation leader. He served in the European Theatre and was in Belguim on VE Day. He remained in the service until after the Japanese surrender in 1945. He rose to the rank of Captain and received the bronze star for meritorious service. He later attained the rank of Major in the Reserves.
Barbara resigned her position in 1943. She stayed home to raise their two sons: Harold Jr., born April 6, 1944; and James Root, born October 6, 1947. In 1948, while Herb and his family were visiting from their home in Massachusetts, the Drummonds hosted a Ligda Family Picnic at their Campbell home. It was to be the only time she and her three brothers were together with all their children.
In 1951, Barbara resumed her teaching career at Campbell High School. In 1953, the family moved to Adin in Modoc County, California where Harold had been appointed Superintendent and Principal of the local high school. Two years later, he was appointed to a similar position in Angels Camp, Calavaras County, where the family remained for five years. In 1958, during that period, Barbara taught eighth grade at San Andreas Elementary School. She was the first English teacher to appear on Station KVIE TV in Sacramento.
In 1960, Harold was appointed Principal of Tahoe Truckee High School. The family moved to Truckee. Barbara taught seventh and eighth grade English, French, and Government at Truckee Elementary School. In 1969, when he was 63 and she 58, they both retired. They remained in Truckee for three more years. Then, to escape the cold winters, they returned to the Bay Area, buying a home at 2209 Golden Rain Drive in Walnut Creek. Barbara was near her mother at the time of her death in 1974. She served as Executrix of her the will.
In 1982, Harold suffered the first of a series of mini-strokes. Those strokes became more frequent over the next few years. Barbara cared for him at home until May, 1987, when he had to be moved to a nursing home. Harold’s condition continued to deteriorate until his death on September 25, 1989. Barbara survived her husband by over three years. She died at age 83 on January 31, 1993.
- Frances died at her home on September 18, 1989. In the last days of her life, she suffered from diabetes, blindness in one eye, bone deformity, and alcoholism. Barbara took over her affairs which were in extreme disarray from neglect. Subsequently Barbara’s son, Jim, became Frances’ conservator. ↩
- Barbara is listed as a student at her home address in the city directories for 1926 thru 1930, so it appears she lived at home until her graduation. Her mother wrote that it was a “blessing” to have Barbara at home in 1927 during her recovery from having her teeth removed. ↩
- She was at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles when Paul died. While in the hospital, her father made the request that Barbara take care of her mother and try to make her happy. ↩
- She is listed in the San Francisco directories from 1937 thru 1940, first as 925 Leavenworth; then at 2130 Leavenworth. ↩
- Harold was born November 12, 1905 in Albion, Nebraska. He died September 25, 1989. ↩
- The 1942 city directory lists the Drummonds as living at the Bay Street address. She also lived with Frances Todd at 745 Vicente Street for a period while Harold was overseas. ↩